WEST ALLIS - Winter Olympics history tells us Americans can fly on ice.
Our nation’s speed skaters have won more Olympic gold medals than skaters for any other country.
Wisconsin plays a big part in this success story.
Newswatch 12's Shardaa Gray takes us to West Allis where the Spirit of the North has driven speed skaters for decades.
"It hasn’t really hit me yet, but once I’m there and getting into it and being with the team; it will start to sink in." said America's youngest speed skater, Emery Lehman.
17 year old Emery Lehman from Illinois is the youngest U.S. Olympic speed skater this year.
90 years ago a young speed skater named Charles Jewtraw was the first person ever to win a gold medal in the very first Winter Olympics.
Jewtraw won the 500 meter event in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
Emery isn’t sure if he’ll make history like Jewtraw, but he does have high hopes.
"My goals are probably to finish between 15th and 10th in the 5K," Emery said.
"Then 10K, only 16 skaters; probably I’m going in ranked like 16th. So anything better than last at this point."
Before leaving for Sochi, Lehman trained at the Pettit National Ice Center in West Allis.
He has been training there since he was 14 years old.
They’ve trained Olympians since 1992, after it was reconstructed to become an indoor facility.
"The impetus behind it was to create an Olympic training site. So it had to open by the end of 1992 for political reasons within the US speed skating," said Pettit Ice Center Executive Director, Randy Dean.
"The USOOC had to be open by the end of 1992 to be an official US Olympic training site."
The Pettit Center replaced the outdoor 24 year old Wisconsin Olympic Ice Rink.
"It was right here in this very site; almost not the exact place where the oval is today, but very close. They’d tell stories of the salt blowing off the expressway, the headwinds and how cold it was," Dean said.
"There wasn’t any enclosed oval in the United States. So people got together here and raised some money, got some help from the state and built the Pettit Center here for about 14 million dollars."
85 speed skating medals have been won by American Olympians going into Sochi Games.
Out of that number, 70 medals were won by Olympians that trained or based at the Pettit Center.
Emery’s mom remembers when he first put on speed skating skates.
"They loaned him a pair of boats, he got on the ice, he looked at me I was standing on the bleachers, kind of shrugged his shoulders looked down at his boots and started to skate and he fell in love with it." said Emery's mother, Marcia Lehman.
"He just had that intangible quality that you can see in some kids. It’s like you can’t really teach it. Once you see it’s there to be developed." Emery's coach, Jeff Klaiber said.
"It’s definitely paid off now. Traveling’s a lot of fun and competing is a lot of fun. It’s all worth it in the end," said Emery.
"Especially because I love it, it’s a lot easier. It’s probably a lot harder for my mom and dad who put in just as much dedication as I did, but they don’t get to travel as much."
Emery raced Friday; finishing 16th out of 26 races in the men's 5,000 meters, the best finish by an American.
STOUGHTON - Police in Stoughton are investigating a threatening letter that was sent to a black teenager, with a photo that depicted him as the victim of a lynching.
The letter had a Madison postmark but no return address. The family told the newspaper it contained a photo showing two men hanging from a tree, with a mob watching. A picture of the 18-year-old was superimposed onto one of the men.
MERRILL - When you think of movies you probably think of Hollywood, but one man from Northcentral Wisconsin is bringing his feature film to the local screen.
Wausau’s Jarrod Crooks not only makes movies, but he also stars in them.
His latest film, "Dispatched" is based off the Elvis Presley movie, “Girl Happy,” says filmmaker Jarrod Crooks. “My character Jake is sent to go watch my bosses daughter while she’s on vacation with a friend. Then an old enemy is kind of after him while he’s on vacation, so some things happen.”
Crooks made, "Dispatched" on a $5,000 budget and it’s full of romance, action, and comedy.
“My buddy would joke with me, ‘why don’t you just pick one genre man and then just go with it'," says Crooks. "I’m like because I want to make this movie how I want to make It'." "I actually like romantic comedies, I think they’re kind of fun, and I think they’re cute. I like action films because I’m a guy, and I like comedy because Jim Carey is great.”
Crooks is only 28 and has already made 4 feature films. His passion started when he was 12 years old.
“I went over to my friend’s house and he had a video camera. I was like oh we should make a movie, and at that time I was really into, “Wishbone,” says Crooks.
“We’d always remake our own literature pieces. Then I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and I’m like, alright it’s settled we’re doing action films from now on," says Crooks. “From then on it was just a love affair with the filmmaking.”
His latest film will be shown at the Cosmo Theatre in Merrill on Saturday at 5pm.
“The fact that I’m bringing it to central Wisconsin is great because this is where I grew up," says Crooks. "All my family and friends get to see it, so I’m very excited about that and you get to see yourself on the big screen what’s better than that.”
MADISON - A federal appeals court has upheld Republican Gov. Scott Walker's public union restrictions.
The restrictions stripped most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. Two unions representing city of Madison and Dane County public workers filed a lawsuit in 2011 alleging the law violated their right to freely assembly and equal protection.
U.S. District Judge William Conley found the restrictions constitutional in September. A three-judge appeals panel affirmed Conley's ruling Friday, saying the U.S. Constitution doesn't require the state to maintain policies that allow certain associations to thrive.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen calls the ruling ``a victory for the law and for Wisconsin taxpayers.''
An attorney for the unions tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he needs to talk to his clients before deciding whether to appeal.
Wisconsin court to decide on testing drunk drivers
MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to decide whether police can legally draw suspected drunken drivers' blood without a warrant or driver consent.
The court said it would hear three drunken driving cases, two of which involved a homicide. That announcement came nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a Missouri case that could call into question Wisconsin's law.
Wisconsin since 1993 has granted police authority to draw drunken driving suspects' blood without a warrant or consent.
About 5,000 people refused to comply with police tests in 2011 and 2012.
The eventual rulings in the three cases are expected to clarify how law enforcement can gather evidence in some Wisconsin drunken driving cases.
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